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Eighth Lecture: Sensation — The Seventh of the Creative Principles

We are this evening brought to the consideration of the seventh of the seven principles, being the one denominated on the diagram as “Sensation." To enforce the subject more fully I would say, that, beginning with Force, we traced around, considering each of the seven principles in their order. Each is united to the other, and cannot work without that unity; but, as we go on, each successive one is more and yet more potent in its operation, as it calls into unity all the forces that have preceded it; so that, having been brought, this evening, to the seventh, it necessitates the other six in order that this may exist. We begin with Force as the principle that concentrates and brings matter into existence. The second principle discriminates and polarizes the atoms of matter. The third gives order to all formation. The fourth causes all things, after the formation has taken place, to cohere and adhere together, and makes growth of vegetation possible. The fifth is the state of fermentation, wherein the elements of which the vegetable is composed are changing, the life-forces concentrating and forming for themselves independent organisms wherein to manifest their nature, the first mode of which life is, through transmutation, when insect existence begins to take nourishment, which is transmuted from the condition in which it is in when taken into the little organism, to that like the higher essences of its nature. The result of this combination makes possible the reception of the principle of sensation.
While, in itself, sensation is a distinct principle, yet, without its alliance to matter, to organism, there is no sensation. Sensation is a mode of consciousness. I presume that there is no word more commonly used, and none having so little known of its nature and quality as the principle of sensation. In fact, the real principles underlying it can never be comprehended by human intelligence; but it may be apprehended. We may, this evening, be enabled to trace its workings, to observe the laws and methods and localities; but when we have asked the question, What is sensation? we can only answer, that sensation is the instrument or the mode by which the life reaches out and preserves itself, the mode of cognizance, the instrumentality by which knowledge comes to life. Then, when we have come to consider the idea of sensation from this interior standpoint, we ask the question again, What is life? Here we are lost in the infinite ocean of Cause,—the great source of being, the spirit essence which alone has the power of cognizance.
The interior essence of being has, in all organisms, formed instruments for itself by which it reaches out and comes in contact with the physical world, through which contact it takes cognizance of it. This principle of sensation becomes the means by which the life is preserved from destruction, by itself or by its enemies. Sensation is the germ of all thought, from which all thought originates. Were it not for sensation thought would not be known in the world.
Thought has unfolded from sensation in this way: Those insect existences grow and develop and increase, feed one upon another, multiplying qualities, and thus necessitating additional functions, and also organs, until higher and yet higher stages of insect existence appear in the world. Sensation lies at the foundation of the multiplicity of organic life. The sense of sight, the sense by which we cognize light, is the means by which the eye has been formed. The sense of pain and pleasure, or the idea of being hurt, and the effort to preserve themselves from destruction among their fellows, has caused them to earnestly desire. Again a thought has been created which answers to that desire, to be able to take cognizance of, and protect themselves from the adversaries of their life. This effort to take cognizance we see in the little insects that have no eyes, but shoot out a feeler and feel their way around them. They are standing quietly, or may be moving along rapidly, and a little unusual noise or sound will cause them to stop suddenly, and their little feelers will go out in every direction, and, as soon as they are made conscious of some unusual fellow-creature, of whatever size or character it may be, they at once seek their methods of self-protection. Here it is that the necessity of throwing the senses into the extremities springs up.
As we come to examine and look after the elements, or substances, if you please, in which the sense is found most dominant, we find it is in that crystal water that is usually denominated, "nerve fluid," and with which the nerve is filled. In it is the most acute sense, and wherever the thought goes, there goes its essence of life with it. The blind man I referred to before, who has been taught to read with the fingers, soon gets so that he can read with astonishing rapidity; scarcely is it necessary for him to touch the raised letters. I knew a man that was totally blind, yet, if a cat ran across the street before him he knew it. He had been in the habit of throwing the senses to the front, and that habit had made the nerve-centers so acute that they took cognizance of a shadow or of anything that passed before them.
We are taught by the masters of the Orient, both ancient and modern, that we should conquer sensation. What does this imply? We conquer that which gives rise to thought. Yes, we conquer this basis, this foundation principle, and we turn our attention toward the cause; that is, after the work of evolution has gone to its limit in ourselves, then we no longer feel as though we were down here on the earth, but draw our consciousness, our cognizance, from the earth condition, as we see the butterfly arising from a lower form. Having developed the interior and spiritual essences, and filled the body with their purer essence of life, through a persistent conserving of the life-potencies within the body ; having conquered all the baser nature, the principle of uncontrolled generation; having turned all the forces into the higher uses of the body, and filled it with luminous life-elements,—then the body begins to be able to take cognizance of purer, higher, and grander thought than can be found upon the earth-plane; for, when we begin to conquer the sensations that come to us from the physical body, we at once reach out and begin to sense the more subtle and more perfect thought-emanations of the Creator. There can be no effort made without a desire. Desire is the method of prayer, as has been well said. "Prayer is the sincere desire of the heart." Love is a form of desire. God is love.
In the consideration of these seven principles Cohesion was shown to be the mother-nature, the motherlove being the active one in the world, that we admire and respect more than all others as the preserver of all things, as that principle that has such zealous care over all its subjects. When the mother-nature is well embodied, and has its full and comprehensive understanding in us, and we come to recognize the subject that we have been talking to you about, namely, that we are only one of a great family of the Infinite Father, God, and that all men, all creatures, all life, all formation are alike the offspring of the one great Mind, then we enlarge the sphere of the mother-love from merely that narrow family relation, to become like the Divine Mother that loves all her creatures alike, that is no respecter of persons. The pure mother would give her life, would work until the flesh was worn from her bones, would lie down at night exhausted, sleepless, and anxious for the sake of providing for her offspring, for her children, for their education, for their qualification to enable them to step out on the field of action to take care of themselves in the world.
When that mother-love in us has had its perfect unfoldment, and we look out upon the world of humanity and see that all are God's children,—and we are the sons of God,—that we are joint-heirs, and, therefore, these are all our children, then we enlarge the sphere, and take into the encompassing love all things, and we labor with diligence, combined with divine wisdom, that we may educate and uplift and relieve the suffering of all God's creatures. This desire, when formulated, will at once possess and polarize our inner consciousness, so that it will reach out and begin to take cognizance of the Everlasting Father, and then, and not until then, comes to us, ever, the prayer—The Lord's Prayer—that we have so frequently heard in our churches, where Jesus says, "In this manner pray ye." The very first utterance is "Our Father." Now, we are told by the same authority, "Without faith is sin." And without a consciousness of that object to which we speak there can be no faith, there can be no adequate concentration. How can you concentrate the mind, the desire, upon an object, upon a principle, upon a spirit, unless there is some means within you by which you may take cognizance of that something to which you are reaching out in love? Can you love something that you know nothing of; that you have no idea of? No. Go to those devotional ones and ask them, Do you love God? Oh, yes, they answer. What is your idea of God, we then ask? Can we get them to define it at all? Do they not usually refuse, because their own reason condemns it? Yet, when they will define it, what is the result? They have pictured to themselves a grand man, a high, ideal man, and that man is the image of their worship. In that sense they may be elevated by having fixed a standard of manhood, desiring that standard, reaching out toward it, inspiring from it. It has been a means of the elevation of the race for ages past. But yet it is not the highest one. While men have been in this state, and have pictured for themselves a man, and have reached out in their aspirations toward that man, though there may have come thoughts directly from the true God of the Universe, they have been reaching out to something like themselves,—reaching out merely through the external senses.
I want here to call your attention to a thought. Every thought that you think must of necessity have a form. You cannot think anything without putting it into form. We will illustrate it thus: The spiritual man dwells within. Now, if a thought comes to a man from without, reaches the senses without, and, through the senses, becomes conscious to the spiritual entity within, then it must give the exact inversion of the form that it was in when it left the thinker's mind. In other words, the type that makes the impression has the wrong side up. It is inverted.
In the same way the human intelligence has received every thought of God inverted. It is a wonderful thing, if you will stop and think of it, to take the thoughts, the doctrines, that are received by the thinking world at large. We have received them through this living in the five senses. How thoroughly they have inverted every divine thought,—even the one I have just called your attention to, the Lord's Prayer! Where is there a Christian on the continent today who, when he prays, "Father, let thy kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven," if you should say, "Stop! what do you mean,—to desire that God's will should be done here on the earth as it is in heaven?" He does not expect that, but means all the time the other way about. "Let me go up there and do thy will in heaven, for I cannot down here on earth." Just inverted. Go through the entire revelation of the Scriptures, and you find that the mind of men who have come to these things from the external senses and reasoning of the brain, exclusively from the external senses, has every idea exactly inverted; therefore the five senses cannot be trusted for spiritual discernment. You cannot trust them any more than you can read the type before the impression is made. What must be done? The inner consciousness must be opened to the Soul of the Universe. There must be a development from within, so that the soul itself, the inmate that dwells within the house, has a power independent of the five senses, to go out into the cause world, and to receive into the innermost consciousness the thought of God, and project it out to the world. We have to go by ourselves, independent of any man, of any teachers, and reach out for the knowledge by that innermost principle of love which is God-love, and there is no God-love but that which is love to all his creatures. And if I love my wife, my children, my own little circle, to the exclusion of all others, and even perchance to the oppression of others,—which we see all the time,—this is self-love, and not God-love.
Now, this principle of true love is as necessary and, in fact, it is the necessary principle to have always active, being the true sense, the soul-sense, which can be opened and made a receptacle of the thoughts of God, that work from the interior out through the exterior. "We must grow," says the Hindu master, "as the flower grows;" and the flower gathers its vitality from within, and unfolds from within to without, and the external is being constantly thrown off. Thus we must grow from within. We must cultivate the interior senses to the suppression and perfection of the external senses.
There is nothing more deceptive to the world than the senses, in more ways than the inspirational. The sense of pleasure is the most deceptive thing that we have. Pleasure is nothing more than life in motion. There can be no sensation without something that produces a movement of the life elements. There must be a cause of motion before there can be any sensation. Even for the sensation that belongs to the interior and spiritual there must be a spiritual cause to produce it before it can be manifest. We sense the touch of some person or thing. There has been a movement from without that has caused the sensation.
If we trace further, and ask the question, "What is that we call pleasure?" we feel all animated and joyous, and the bright red blood springs to the cheeks. The eyes glow with all the luster, and fullness, and vitality that fills the body; we are animated, we are happy; but that lasts for a little time only, and we begin to feel tired. Now what has taken place? This life, and animation, and joy, was merely a going out and throwing off of the finest elements of our life. A waste. Yes, perhaps a waste of the purest elements that we possess. That is all there is in it. We were simply using and exhausting the very essences of being, and it was pleasure while it was going on, but the reaction comes afterwards. The very principle that controls the animal world in the function of generation is sensation; the sensation of all kinds of pleasure rules sufficiently strong to dominate over all mankind as an incentive to action; and why? Because the very finest essences of our existence are being concentrated and formulated in a germ, using the divinest principle of our being, and in that action of concentration all these finer essences in their action impart a sense of pleasure. And the final exodus of that essence is the ultimate of that pleasure. Then come exhaustion and repulsion. The body is weakened; the mind is lost; the vitalizing principle that animates the molecules of the body has gone. Right here can be found the cause of our being so subject to diseased conditions. The mind may be very active, the brain fully engaged in some useful, and perhaps thoughtful labor. Finally the body gets full of life and animation. Every molecule seems to be aglow with life. We perhaps overfeed the body to secure additional strength, or as a matter of habit. Finally, when the body is filled with this additional material, there comes the demand of the lower, the sense-nature; it reaches the mind; that life-essence is then concentrated in the sex-nature and goes out from us. The body is exhausted. The creative part of this animating, vivifying life that permeated all the particles of the body is gone. Death has entered the body. Millions of molecules of matter are left without their animating essence. At once the divine mother-nature, coworking with the wonderful mechanic, order, concentrates her forces upon the most fit, leaving all the rest to be thrown off, and the work begins in the body to gather up these dead atoms and bring them into the blood, and carry them off through the ordinary channels of effete matter. In that con lotion we feel tired, languid, irritable. We are angry at the least thing. We do not know why. But stop and think, and we will find that there is an interior will that is called into action. Every nerve is strained. All the forces are diligently at work in the body to cleanse it from these dead carcasses that are left there because of the injudicious waste of the finer essences of the system. Perhaps they are resurrected in another form. But our life must now be taxed. We must go to work and tear down and get rid of those dead and impure molecules in the body, and the act of doing so taxes the body to its utmost. Supposing, at that time, some poisonous condition comes in,—some extra taxation on the body from another source,—the body is then like an army that has an adversary to fight hand to hand, man to man; and now the enemy is suddenly reinforced, and you fall victims, simply because you have not maintained that perfect equilibrium of life.
We are taught by the masters that we must obtain that deep soul-calm that is unmoved under all circumstances; that we must move through the world as one with power to be and to do what he wills to be and to do. Such is necessary. No one will be master until he can move through this world having sufficient mastery to be unmoved, self-controlled. We would not think a man was very much of a master of his enemies, if, when he walked through their midst, he went skulking here and there. He is the master who walks through the midst of his enemies without fear, without a tremor, feeling within himself that he is master of his surroundings; moving with a calm self-possession.
We must conquer our senses; for they exhaust the vital fluids and leave us depleted, and, whilst we are ruled by them, we are jostled here and there. We are crowded by adversaries from within and without, and these adversaries without, and the irregularity of our own life within, keep us continually in this struggling condition. Here poising your mind on one object, dwelling there day after day, and week after week, will not give you the needed power; no ordinary drill will suffice; this power must come from within,—from the forces that you possess, from the actions and laws of your being.
That which allies us to this world is sensation. It was there our consciousness began. We seek its cause; we know its workings; we know what is accomplished when sensations are active within us. Therefore, we watch them as we would watch a thief. When we feel that sensation is in the body, we know there is some cause for it. Watch carefully what is being done; what is being accomplished. Watch from the inner consciousness; hold still all other senses; look into the mind, and observe the springs of thought and sensation. Be quiet. Listen with the stillness of every function and faculty of the mind and body; and, as you listen and question,—for the God that dwells within you is identical with the God that rules the universe, both in power and wisdom,—that God within you is able to answer every question. Listen to his voice!
No wonder, as Isaiah said, "When I spake, there was none to answer. When I called there was none to say, 'Here am I.'" Because, as the voice of God calling in the garden (Whose garden? Why, the garden of your body), when all these animal senses are active, he speaks, and speaks, and speaks again, and there is no ear to hear. We are too busy with these inverted senses. The glitter and glamour of a world of sense stultifies the mind, deafens the ear; and, though it calls aloud, we think it is the voice of fancy, and again we go more and more deeply into the senses. The teachers of spiritual laws tell us we must be careful and not run after phantoms; that God is spirit, yet God never any more approaches man; that man is isolated from God. Oh, sad condition if it were so 1 No! God dwells within the soul, is enthroned upon the will, rules in the life-forces, serves as a faithful and over-indulgent mother, anxious for the good of all; serving and sustaining you ever, though you do evil; constantly laboring to preserve your life. If you waste the gold of pure life he at once goes to work diligently to replace it. On and on the divine principle labors, until, finally, you have sinned "against the day of grace ; " in other words, you have so exhausted the body that it has become unfit for other uses, and that same principle disintegrates the body for service in other directions.
Then the sense that we want is that inner sense that listens, hears, feels, and cognizes God, the Cause, the indwelling pure Spirit; and, to do so, the man who is master of himself, has reason above sensation, he knows the voice of the Almighty as it calls within him. God acts and speaks through the consciousness, is zealous, in the man or the woman, for the good of all men and all women. This should cause you and me to desire, with the same earnest, anxious love that the mother has for her child, to labor for humanity, to desire their well-being, to desire that they should come into this divine consciousness.
"When heavenly desire is active, then man can pray; but not without it can he pray effectually. Then the prayer of that soul that looks out upon the human family and the world, and sees the fallen condition we are in today, and reaches out with that pure thought that they should have: "Oh, for wisdom and power! that I might work under thy divine guidance for the elevation of my brethren, of those under my care!—Oh, that I might become an instrument in the hands of that Infinite Power to work that I may alleviate, elevate, and strengthen; that I may bring my fellows into the consciousness of that glorified life!"
We are now like the tube that has been lying across the rapid rushing stream until its interior is filled with gravel and clay and dirt; but, if it is turned around lengthwise with the stream, the waters rush through and clean it, and the Avaters have free course through it. So you and I. When our interior is turned in a direct line to the Great Soul that loves the world and gives itself for its elevation, when we are thus blessed with the divine life, the current flows through us as the mighty rushing river flows through the tube to all the creatures for whom we desire this "Blessing" that we have obtained.

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